The Coton de Tulear is a cheerful, active toy-sized breed that's beloved by owners everywhere. Fortunately for those owners, Coton care and maintenance are not extremely time-consuming. Below you'll find plenty of info on raising and caring for a Coton: puppy development, exercise needs, diet and nutrition, and more. For answers to all your questions about Coton de Tulear care, keep reading!
Coton de Tulear puppy development typically spans 12-14 months from birth to adulthood. Physically, Coton puppies are tiny when they're born, weighing only a few ounces; they grow swiftly in height and length for the first 5-6 months, then those growth rates slow somewhat while the adolescent Coton gains muscle mass and fat; a Coton is usually at or near its full adult size by 11-12 months of age. Socially, development is fairly steady: Coton pups reach adolescence at 4-5 months, sexual maturity at 8-9 months, and full mental maturity by 14 months (though some may retain their puppylike behavior for a few additional months). For specific milestones in Coton de Tulear puppy development, see the following chart:
|Dog Age||Development Milestone|
|2-3 Weeks||Eyes/ears open, begins walking|
|2 Months||Old enough to be separated from mother, housetrained, introduced to solid food|
|3 Months||Can begin exercising; vaccinations/de-worming needed|
|5 Months||Adolescence begins, characterized by increased fear, independence, disobedience|
|9 Months||Sexual maturity; can be switched to adult food|
|9-12 Months||Adult coat will begin coming in; extra grooming needed during this time to prevent tangles and mats|
Like all breeds, consistent exercise is important in keeping your Coton de Tulear happy and healthy. These are active, upbeat little dogs, and fulfill much of their daily activity needs by simply being themselves--cavorting around, make sure all their people are as cheerful as they are. But exactly how much daily exercise does a Coton need? Overall, not a whole lot. An adult Coton, depending on its age and overall activity level, will need 30-45 minutes of physical activity per day. You can begin exercising a Coton puppy at three months of age by taking it on short (5- to 10-minute) walks, then increasing the walks' duration as the pup grows.
Some things to consider when exercising your Coton: first, puppies younger than nine months shouldn't participate in activities that include a lot of jumping and running, as doing so can injure their still-developing bones and joints. Regardless of age, a Coton will benefit much more from exercises in which you, the owner, also participate. These dogs are sensitive people-pleasers, and will be much more willing to engage in exercise if their humans are doing it along with them. Cotons are also wanderers, so they'll either need to be leashed or closely supervised when exercising in public. In other words, simply letting the dog out to play by itself in the backyard, even if it's fenced, just won't do.
Precautions aside, it's important to give your Coton some exercise every day. A bored or restless dog of this breed can exhibit behavioral problems like disobedience, destructiveness, and loss of the cheerful demeanor Cotons are so well-known for. So a bit of daily activity will keep both you and the dog happy! Here are some exercise ideas for your Coton and you:
- Walking: Two 15-minute walks per day is a good target
- Fetch: Can be played indoors or out
- Dog Park: A Coton enjoys the company of other dogs
- Hide-and-Seek: Great rainy-day indoor activity; give the dog a treat when it finds you
- Canine Sports: Cotons excel at obedience and agility competitions
When indoors, it's a good idea to give your Coton access to one or more balls or chew-toys that will allow the dog to release any pent-up energy. It's also recommended that you establish a consistent daily exercise schedule for your Coton, such as walks after breakfast and dinner and a play period in the afternoon.
Maintenance for these dogs in terms of shedding and drooling is quite low compared to most breeds. Coton de Tulear shedding is extremely minimal for most of the dog's life, with the exception being when an adolescent Coton changes from a puppy to an adult coat at 9-12 months of age. Drooling is not an issue at all.
Cotons have fluffy coats that shed very little--except toward the end of a puppy's first year, when it "blows" the puppy coat and grows an adult one. According to breeders and professional groomers, owners of young Cotons will need to brush and bathe their dogs often during this stage, because the coat change causes mats and tangles to form rather quickly. Once the adult coat has fully grown in, though, these dogs almost never shed.
And a Coton may drool a bit in anticipation of food, but almost never otherwise. If your Coton is drooling excessively, it may be a sign of a medical issue, in which case a veterinarian's care is needed.
As an active, lively little breed, Coton de Tulear diet and nutrition are vital in keeping these dogs cheerful and healthy. Cotons, as toy-sized dogs, don't eat a lot of food, but they have quite sensitive stomachs and can have allergic reactions to grains including corn, wheat, and barley, among others. This means that Coton de Tulear food will need to be a premium grain-free formula. Though high-quality grain-free foods are more expensive and difficult to obtain, they contain vital ingredients--animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy, omega fatty acids for coat and skin health, and no grains--that cheap, "generic" dog foods simply don't have.
But regardless of price, your Coton won't eat much of it. Depending on its age, size, and activity level, an adult Coton de Tulear will need approximately ¾ cup of dry food per day, divided into two meals. Again depending on their age, Coton puppies need a bit less: about ½ cup per day, divided into three meals (not two) until the puppy is six months old. It's a good idea to give a young Coton puppy food for its first nine months, then you can transition to an adult formula by mixing the two for a few days. Another recommendation is to establish a consistent feeding schedule for your Coton so the dog gets used to eating at the same time every day. For more info on feeding a Coton de Tulear, see the chart below.
|Dog Age||Dog Weight||Food Type||Amount||Frequency|
|2 Months||2 lbs||Dry (Grain-Free Puppy Formula)||0.1 cups||3x/day|
|3 Months||3 lbs||Dry||0.15 cups||3x/day|
|6 Months||6 lbs||Dry||0.2 cups||3x/day|
|9 Months||8 lbs||Dry* (Puppy/Adult)||0.35 cups||2x/day|
|12 Months+||10 lbs||Dry (Grain-Free Adult Formula)||0.4 cups||2x/day|
*--Around this time, transition to adult food by first mixing a bit of adult formula in with the puppy formula. Over the course of a week, with each meal add a bit more adult food until the dog is eating it entirely.
It's highly recommended that you stick with the above-listed portions; while they seem tiny, they're ample enough for these little dogs! An overfed Coton de Tulear may become overweight, leading to joint, breathing and digestive issues, not to mention a shortened lifespan. You can control your Coton's weight in several ways: by establishing consistent feeding and exercise schedules; by not feeding the dog table scraps; and perhaps most important, by not "free-feeding" your Coton. (Free-feeding is leaving food in the dog's bowl all the time so it can eat whenever it wants.) It's better to put your Coton's bowl down only at mealtimes, then pick it up 15 minutes or so after the dog begins eating.
If you're worried your Coton is overweight, give the dog this simple Ribs Test: run a hand along its side, and if you can't feel any ribs, it's diet time. Reduce your Coton's daily food consumption by one-fourth, and add an extra walk or play period to its daily exercise schedule.
The best dog food for a Coton de Tulear is premium grain-free dry food. The food will need to be free of grains because these dogs often have allergic reactions to corn, barley, wheat, and other grains. Cotons can also be picky eaters, so some owners say they will mix in a bit of lean meat, fresh vegetables, or cooked eggs with the dry food to make it more appealing to the dog.